First Bite: Bond Restaurant and Lounge

Maybe it’s just us feeling old, but we at Chowder don’t spend a whole lot of time in clubby lounges. Those so-called hotspots where the house DJ goes by first name? Not really our scene. So when an invite to a media dinner at “Boston’s newest nightlife destination,” Bond, crossed my desk, I didn’t exactly whoop out loud. The location, in the Langham Hotel, was also suspect. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually had fun in the Financial District, which normally clears out at 7 p.m.

But curiosity won out, and come Thursday, I found myself sipping bubbly in the Dom Perignon VIP lounge, a balcony that overlooks the cavernous Jeffrey Beers-designed space. The Champagne lounge bit is an ostentatious exercise, for sure. But Bond is hardly bashful, and—somewhat unnervingly, given the economic climate—its theme is cold, hard cash.

Blown-up $1,000s, $100s, and $50s hang from the walls, replacing the murals that dominated the former restaurant, Julien; giant crystal chandeliers, another vestige of the old restaurant, hang conspicuously above the carnival-colored, revamped space, once the home of Boston’s Federal Reserve Bank.

And yet money doesn’t buy everything.

Some of the small plates on veteran hotel chef Mark Sapienza’s menu were perfectly snackable, like zingy lamb meatballs and the crisp, spicy clam-and-pancetta pizza. Others, like the slightly soggy calamari, bland seafood spring rolls, and a gamey duck “prosciutto,” were not.

Pastry chef Trena Costello’s dessert course ended things well, especially her mango tres leches cake, a pleasant puff of buttery frosting, cake, and mango gelee plated with raspberry “caviar.” I never did figure out what was seasonal about the Seasonal Brulées (when is pistachio season?), and we didn’t polish off the cheesy (ahem) cheesecake lollipops. But we did dive into the accompanying pile of Pop Rocks and, naturally, had to see how they paired with Champagne. (They don’t.)

While not supremely elegant, it’s fun food. And while I wouldn’t call Bond an ultralounge—at least not during the early part of the evening, when the space was dotted with white-haired tourists and suit-clad financial types—it could fill a gap in the neighborhood’s nightlife. Guess I’ll have to go back around 11 p.m. and see what’s shaking.